Top Dental Assistant Colleges | How to Become a Dental Hygienist near Gilberton PA 17934

How to Select a Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Gilberton 17934

dental assistant training in Gilberton PAPicking the ideal dental hygienist college near Gilberton PA is an important first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than choosing the college with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other significant issues to take into account also, including the school’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two specialties you are most interested in receiving training for, which may depend on the amount of money and time that you have to commit. The most typical dental assistant program generally takes about 1 year to complete for a certificate or diploma. On the other hand, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to complete. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these factors and supplemental questions that you should be asking the programs you are assessing later in this article. But first, let’s review the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options available.

The Duties of Dental Assistants

Gilberton dental assistant helping dentist 17934Dental assistants are an integral component of any Gilberton dental practice and can undertake a multitude of functions. Their principal job description is to provide support to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice working successfully. Many Pennsylvania dental assistants elect to specialize and earn certification in a particular area, such as pediatrics. Even so the majority of assistants perform any job that they are asked to fulfill, for example:

  • Scheduling and verifying appointments
  • Readying patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
  • Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
  • Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
  • Giving instruments to dentists during procedures
  • Readying X-ray machines and processing X-rays
  • Ordering office and dental supplies

Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so check with the Pennsylvania dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants working with X-ray machines most likely will have to be licensed and certified. A large number of dental assistants who are either required or elect to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

The Role of a Dental Hygienist

Gilberton dental hygienist treating patient in PennsylvaniaWhen comparing the role of a Gilberton dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. As earlier discussed, the dental assistant works with and in support of the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the Pennsylvania practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are typically the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient’s teeth and gums and present their results to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties may include:

  • Removing tartar, stains and plaque
  • Applying fluoride treatments
  • Polishing teeth and applying sealants
  • Instructing patients about oral hygiene
  • Taking and developing X-rays
  • Removing sutures and applying fillings

To qualify for licensing in nearly all states, dental hygienists must graduate from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination in addition to passing any state licensing examinations. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist and Assistant Training Options

Dental assistant courses are offered at Pennsylvania community colleges as well as trade or vocational schools. The most common credential attained is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about 1 year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more extensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. Because of the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental practices are usually required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take anywhere from two to as long as three years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually every state. They are also offered in vocational schools and community colleges. Whether you are interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a clinical component to the training also. Many programs also offer internships with Gilberton area dental practices or dentists.

Online Dental Colleges

attending dental assistant school online in Gilberton homeChoosing an online dental hygienist or assistant school may be a viable alternative for getting your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be accessible by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Gilberton home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending school, online dental classes make education far more accessible. Many may even charge lower tuition rates than their on-campus counterparts. And added expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The clinical training can usually be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to get the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this mode of education, you might find that attending an online dental college is the best option for you.

Points to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Schools

Questions to ask Pennsylvania dental colleges 17934After you have selected the dental specialty and type of credential you wish to obtain, you can start the procedure of comparing Gilberton area programs and schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Possibly they search for some online options also. Although these are significant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the Pennsylvania programs you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the ideal dental college for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental assistant or hygienist school. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in virtually all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Gilberton area employers typically desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not offered for non-accredited schools.

Is The Right Dental Program Offered? You can decide to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just verify that the school you choose offers the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the options are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to have a career as a hygienist, the majority of Gilberton area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are offered. However, keep in mind that just because a college has an exceptional reputation as well as accreditation does not mean all of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school may have a solid accredited dental assistant program, but could have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are solely interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the best school for you.

Is Sufficient Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a vital part of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. Most Gilberton area dental schools have relationships with local dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only important that the program you select offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the program you select offers clinical rotation in a regional dental practice that specializes in dental treatment for children.

Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental schools you are considering sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the best method to receive hands-on, practical experience in a professional Gilberton dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students build professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.

Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Many graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene programs need help landing their first job. Ask if the schools you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental profession in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.

Are the Classrooms Small? Check with the Pennsylvania colleges you are reviewing how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more personal atmosphere for training where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, bigger classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can attend a few classes at the school that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.

 What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant training can fluctuate in cost dependent on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of colleges, remember to add all of the costs associated with your education. Most schools have financial aid departments, so make sure to check out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 17934 area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental school, you must confirm that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while acquiring your education and need to go to classes near Gilberton in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family responsibilities.

Enroll in the Right Dental School near Gilberton PA

Selecting the right dental hygienist or dental assistant course is essential if you wish to take the CDA exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous alternatives offered to obtain your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs normally obtain either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be practicing in just nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists typically require approximately two years of studies before they enter the work force. When obtaining either a degree or a certificate you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training or credential you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the right choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.

 

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